Gibbons Expected to Announce Decision on Reid Challenge Next Week

Posted August 22, 2003 at 1:57pm

After months of deliberation and wildly conflicting rumors, Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) is expected to end the mystery over his political plans early next week.

According to sources in the Silver State, Gibbons will hold two news conferences — one in his home base of Reno, the other in Las Vegas — on Monday to announce whether he’ll challenge Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2004.

Amy Spanbauer, Gibbons’ Capitol Hill spokeswoman, would only say Friday that her boss will reveal his plans before Congress returns to work after Labor Day.

But a two-step announcement in the state’s two media markets would suggest that he is preparing to run for Senate.

However, a top authority on Nevada politics, newsletter publisher and cable TV talk show host Jon Ralston, reported on his cable show Thursday night that Gibbons would not run and would instead seek a fifth term in the House. Ralston said Gibbons has informed his wife, state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons (R), and at least one top adviser about his decision.

Spanbauer called the report “speculation.”

But in a twist that has been typical of Gibbons’ hard-to-read decision-making process, the Ralston report came out on the same day that The Associated Press posted an article in which Gibbons expressed confidence that he could beat Reid.

A Gibbons departure from the Senate race would be welcome news for Reid and Senate Democrats, who are struggling to regain the majority next year. The Senate Minority Whip has never taken more than 51 percent of the vote in any of his statewide races and won re-election in 1998 by just 428 votes.

Republicans do not have an obvious second choice to run against Reid, though possibilities include Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller and State Controller Kathy Augustine.

Gibbons, who lost the gubernatorial election in 1994, is considered a possible candidate for governor in 2006 or for the state Supreme Court. He said in recent interviews that he might choose to stay in the House because he is gaining seniority.

Gibbons’ 2nd Congressional district covers about 96 percent of Nevada, geographically.